Vancouver, October 24, 2015 – It will be No. 1 versus No. 2 in both the men’s and quad tournaments at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships after Philippe Bedard, Eric Gilbert, Gary Luker, and Rob Shaw all advanced into their respective finals at the UBC Tennis Centre in Vancouver on Saturday, while Maude Jacques claimed her first national title in the women’s draw.
Jacques captured two hard-fought matches on Saturday to finish a perfect 4-0 through round-robin play and claim the women’s trophy in her first appearance at nationals. The 23-year-old, who is also a member of the women’s national wheelchair basketball team, opened her day by beating Kirsten Sharp 6-2, 7-6(3) before upsetting No. 1 seed Tara Llanes of BC 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to secure the championship.
“It feels awesome. I came here with no expectations, kind of feeling like an underdog,” Jacques said. “I was really happy I was able to come because I couldn’t be here last year. I got two great matches today and one awesome match yesterday and the day before. I’m really happy with the wins today.”
Winners were also crowned in the women’s doubles draw, with Jacques going home with her second title of the day. She and Marni Abbott-Peter of BC came out on top over Llanes and Sharp 7-6(5), 1-6, 11-9 in the final.
Quad action saw No. 1 seed and defending champion Luker and No. 2 seed Shaw both complete 3-0 records in round-robin play with 6-0, 6-0 victories on Saturday. Luker blanked Ryan Schweizer while Shaw was victorious over Adam Frost to set up a meeting with each other in the final.
Luker will now be going for his third national singles title after also claiming the 2011 trophy, while Shaw will be hoping for his first in just his second appearance at the national championships. Both athletes already have one title to their name at this year’s event, as they teamed up to win the quad final on Saturday. The duo defeated British Columbia’s Alexis Chicoine and Mika Ishikawa 6-0, 6-1.
“We’ve played many times and right now I think he has my number in the win to loss ratio, but we’ve had a lot of close matches,” Shaw said about facing his doubles partner in the singles final. “We know each other’s games and we know how to throw each other off it. He has one of the better pure backhand strokes I’ve seen in the game, he has a lot of power so I have to keep that away from him tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it, it should be a battle out there.”
In the men’s semifinals, two-time defending champion Bedard bested fellow Quebecer Jean-Paul Melo 6-3, 6-1 to make his fourth straight final after also finishing as runner-up in 2012. Gilbert also captured a straight-sets win, taking a 6-2, 6-1 triumph opposite Albertan Kyle Thompson.
After facing off against each other for the singles title on Sunday, Bedard and Gilbert will also be going for the doubles crown together. In the semifinals, the formidable pair eliminated Melo and Paul Pepin 6-0, 6-0. Their challengers in the championship match will be British Columbia-Alberta team Richard Peter and Kyle Thompson.
Live streaming with play-by-play and commentary will be available for the finals on Sunday. Powered by ViaSport, the broadcast can be found here.
The Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships is the biggest wheelchair tennis tournament held in Canada each year, with the country’s top athletes competing for national titles. Action will conclude on Sunday, with play commencing at 9 a.m. with the quad final and continuing through the afternoon. For the complete draws and schedules, please click here.